Mandan News

Mandan ties to television show

By Jessica Holdman
Lee News

A woman with North Dakota family ties is participating in a TV fashion competition.

“Dressed like she’s headed to Burning Man or straight out of a sci-fi film,” reads Michelle Uberreste’s biography on the website of “Under the Gunn,” a TV fashion competition that premiered Thursday on Lifetime.

Uberreste, 29, is the daughter of Dana Newgard, formerly of Mandan, and Evy Newgard, formerly of Ashley; the granddaughter of Betty Newgard of Mandan; and the grandaughter of Lillian Helmer of Wishek.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Betty Newgard.

Raised on a farm in Minnesota, Uberreste learned to sew from her mother when she was 5. Evy Newgard said Uberreste’s interest in fashion was first sparked by helping her mother sew a design on her younger brother’s baby blanket.

Evy Newgard said she was not an expert seamstress but she had the supplies around. She said as Uberreste grew she continuously wanted to know about different sewing techniques.

As a teenager, Uberreste had a style that “didn’t fit the culture in the area but she kept doing it because she liked it,” Evy Newgard said. That style continued when she began clothing design as a career.

“Despite her bucolic background, Michelle makes garments with an edge, inspired by a post-apocalyptic vision of the future,” the show’s website reads.

Evy Newgard said Uberreste became interested in Lip-Service, a clothing company in Los Angeles.

“We told her, ‘If you want them, you have to buy them yourself,’” Evy Newgard said, because the clothing was more expensive. “I think it made her dedicated to it.”

Uberreste announced to her parents she wanted to work at Lip-Service. She was hired by the company before completing fashion design school.

“That was her dream and then she actually did it,” Evy Newgard said.

Evy Newgard said her daughter learned the fashion industry “from the bottom up.”

She started working at Hot Topic in Rapid City, S.D., where she saw what clothes customers were interested in. Before getting to design for Lip-Service, she put in her time sorting thread and moving material. She would later travel to China to see where different material was manufactured, her mother said. And a few years ago, while in London, she saw people wearing her clothing designs.

Uberreste had applied to be on Lifetime’s show “Project Runway” several times, Evy Newgard said. She was called in the summer about “Under the Gunn,” a “Project Runway” spin-off, and auditioned.

Uberreste will be coached by former “Project Runway” competitors and her designs will be judged by designer Rachel Roy, celebrity stylist Jen Rade and TV fashion correspondent and Marie Claire magazine Senior Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts Rassi.

The winner of “Under the Gunn” will receive a cash prize of $100,000, a sewing and embroidery studio, a trip to Paris, the opportunity to design the uniform for Benefit Cosmetics, a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine, a 2014 Lexus CT 200h and the opportunity to design a collection for francesca’s, a clothing and accessories store.

Uberreste launched her company website,, the day of the show’s premiere.